ATLANTA – The Cobb County Superior Court issued an emergency ruling today to ensure that hundreds of Cobb County voters who had requested absentee ballots – but not yet received them – can still vote.
As part of the ruling, the Cobb County Board of Elections will send ballots to those voters today by overnight delivery. Those voters can mail their ballots provided they are postmarked by 7 p.m. on Nov. 8 and returned by Nov. 14. Voters also have the option to either vote in person or use an emergency federal absentee write-in ballot (“FWAB”), if they would prefer or if they have not timely received a ballot from Cobb County.
The ruling reflects a consent agreement between the Cobb County voters who brought the litigation and the Cobb County Board of Elections. It stems from a lawsuit filed last night, Cook v. Cobb County Board of Elections, by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Georgia, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Dechert LLP.
Among the stipulations agreed to in court late this afternoon, the Cobb County Board of Elections must:
- Extend the ballot receipt deadline for all affected voters to Nov. 14—the same receipt deadline for uniformed and overseas voters—provided those absentee ballots are postmarked by 7 p.m. on Nov. 8.
- Send replacement absentee ballots today to impacted voters who have not yet been sent a ballot and who have not already voted. Ballots will be sent via UPS overnight delivery.
- Send immediate notice by email and text message to affected voters to provide status of absentee ballot, explain options for voting by replacement absentee ballot or in person, and instructions on how to view their sample ballot on their My Voter Page at mvp.sos.ga.gov.
- Allow impacted voters the option to vote in person or by FWAB ballot.
- Release a public announcement on the county website alerting voters to the issue that any eligible voter who has not yet received their absentee ballot and who has not yet voted may do so in person on Election Day.
The following reactions are from:
Rahul Garabadu, Senior Voting Rights Attorney, ACLU of Georgia: “We are pleased that Cobb County voters who were affected by this issue will have an opportunity to have their voices heard in tomorrow’s election. We will never stop fighting to make sure that eligible voters can participate in their democracy.”
Jonathan Topaz, Staff Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project: “This is an important result for these Cobb County voters, who through no fault of their own did not receive the absentee ballots to which they were legally entitled. We will fight to ensure that this agreement is fully enforced and that these voters have the opportunity to exercise their fundamental right to vote in the November election.”
Poy Winichakul, Senior Staff Attorney for Voting Rights, SPLC: “We are proud that these Cobb County absentee voters will receive an absentee ballot and can exercise their right to vote. We encourage all voters to complete and return their ballots as fast as they can to make their voice heard for their community.” Read the full agreement here.